County halts postal fence project
April 29, 2005
Douglas County halted erection of an 8-foot chain-link security fence – topped with barbed wire – at the Minden Post Office because it’s out of place in the historic town.
County building official Darin Whatcott issued a stop-work order April 26.
“The fence doesn’t meet the standards for the Minden downtown area,” Whatcott said.
Postal officials said Friday the project contractor believed the post office was exempt from town and county regulations because the fence is a federal project.
But the postal service is subject to county regulations just like any other business, Whatcott said.
“They just can’t come in and put up a chain-link fence,” Whatcott said. “They need to go through the regular process like anyone else.”
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Postal service spokesman Vic Fenimore said Friday the contractor was under the impression the fence was exempt.
“I think there was some miscommunication,” Fenimore said in an interview from Las Vegas.
He said the fence is to add security to the post office at the corner of Tenth Street and Highway 395.
“There’s been some vandalism that’s occurred,” Fenimore said. “We’re not trying to blame anybody, but the main highway runs right by the post office. We’re concerned about vehicle security and a storage shed that houses equipment that we wouldn’t want to lose or have vandalized.”
John Cressaty was one of a half dozen Minden residents who complained about the fence to town officials.
“I just think it’s inappropriate at the main entrance to the Town of Minden along Highway 395. It looks totally out of place and probably is unnecessary,” said Cressaty, a Minden resident since 1990 and Carson Valley resident since 1967.
County Economic Planning and Development Manager Mimi Moss said the county was working with postal officials to complete the minor design review process for a fence which takes about 10 days.
“Once they get a plan for a decorative-type wall, they need to get a building permit and can put it up. We will work with them. We haven’t told them to remove it (chain-link fence) yet,” Moss said.
The review makes sure the applicant, in this case the post office, complies with county code regarding height and materials among other regulations.
Minden Town Board Chairman Bob Hadfield said Friday he realized the post office was experiencing growing pains, and hoped the town could work with the postal service to resolve the issue.
“We need a new era of cooperation and problem-solving,” Hadfield said. “That’s where I would rather see our energy go.
“Clearly, the (chain-link) fence is not appropriate. This is a carryover to the old days when federal agencies got used to doing things they wanted to do without regard to local regulations. To some extent, that still happens.”
— Sheila Gardner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 214.